By Professor Ann Brooks
The American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Conference in August, set against the stunning backdrop of the city of Chicago and Lake Ontario, and the socio-cultural earthquakes of Ashley Madison and the political challenges of Donald Trump proved to be even more dynamic than usual. The theme this year was Sexualities in the Social World and attracted hundreds of iconic figures from the sociological world and global sociologists more generally. Iconic figures such as Sasskia Sassen, Sylvia Walby, Anne Swidler, Eva Illouz, Judy Wajcman, Eric Kleinenberg, Robert Sampson, Lynne Jamieson and many many more ….. a veritable whos who in the contemporary world of sociology, presented and contributed enormously to this major conference in sociology.
Plenary sessions included: The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage: Public Opinion and the Courts; Modern Romance: Dating, Mating and Marriage; The Rise of Nonmarital Births; Internet Dating; Abortion in America; and in addition a huge range of Presidental (ASA) Panels included : Birth Control in America; Women on the Battlefield: Integrating Women into the U.S. Military; Aging and Sexuality; Cohabitation; and many many more.
I chose sessions to reinforce the new undergraduate course I am offering in Sem 2, 2015-6 entitled Love and Intimacy in Contemporary Society and these major Plenary sessions did not disappoint. In fact they turned out to be real highpoints of the conference. A packed Saturday evening Plenary Panel entitled Romance Matters included Eric Kleinenberg (NYU), Azis Ansari (Comedian, Author, and TV Presenter), Helen Fisher (Rutgers, psychotherapist and Consultant to match.com), Christain Rudder (Ok Cupid) and Eli Finkel (Northwestern) enthralled the audience with serious and amusing presentations. This was followed by the signing of the Anzari and Kleinenberg new book …Romance Matters. I have to say the students will really enjoy this bringing together of research and teaching.
I convened a session on Gender, Sexuality and Work with 5 excellent papers, many of which are being published within books or journals.
The Presidential address by Paula England looked at the Changing Nature of Sexuality and and a further Presidential Panel looked at the advantages and disadvantages of Internet Dating also as an evening Keynote panel.
A truly inspiring conference with significant relevance for my new BU course. Thank you BU and HSS for supporting this.
Professor Ann Brooks September 7, 2015